Maryland officially announces Alex Len will declare for NBA draft

The University of Maryland has confirmed earlier reports that sophomore center Alex Len will forgo his final two years of college eligibility and enter the NBA draft. The Terrapins will conduct a news conference at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Comcast Center to announce his decision.

“I’m very grateful for the two years I’ve spent at Maryland and for everyone that has supported me during my time here,” Len said in a prepared statement. “It’s been an honor to play here and I’ve learned so much. I want to thank Coach Turgeon and the staff for believing in me and helping me grow as a player and a person. I also want to thank my teammates who were always there for me. We shared some great moments together. I’ve grown a lot, both on the court and off the court, over the past two years and I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life.”

That next chapter likely includes a multimillion-dollar contract. Len is projected as a lottery pick in June’s draft, to be held at Newark’s Prudential Center. He is ranked among the top centers, a short list that includes Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, on whom Len hung 23 points and 12 rebounds in the season opener last November, and Indiana’s Cody Zeller.

Len came to College Park from his native Ukraine before the 2011-12 season. He was suspended by the NCAA for 10 games during his freshman season “based on amateurism guidelines,” but still demonstrated massive strides made between his freshman and sophomore years, both on and off the court.

Once only able to communicate with his teammates and English-speaking peers through Google Translate, Len became a more vocal presence this season, and added 35 pounds to his lanky frame last summer. He led the ACC with 78 blocks this season and averaged 11.9 points per game, earning all-ACC defensive team honors and honorable mention all-conference.

“I’m very proud of Alex and am excited for what the future holds for him,” Coach Mark Turgeon said in the statement. “To see the progress he’s made on the court, in the classroom and socially has been a truly rewarding experience. Alex has worked incredibly hard since he got here and he has earned this opportunity.”

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt | April 15, 2013